If This Doesn’t Stop Soon, We’re Finished

The futuristic battlefield

By Jack A Smith

“We will export death and violence to the four corners of the Earth in defense of our great nation.” – President George W Bush in Bob Woodward’s book Plan of Attack

While most Americans are concentrating on extricating the US government from the debacle in Iraq, and most peace activists are simultaneously concerned that the Bush administration will launch a war against Iran, the leaders of the Pentagon are planning how to win wars 10, 20, and 50 years from now.

Washington is preparing for every contingency, from rooting out a handful of suspected terrorists halfway around the world to possible wars with Russia and China.

The Defense Department’s drawing boards are groaning under the weight of blueprints for sustaining total military dominance of land, sea, air and outer space throughout this century. The costs of supporting the US government’s martial propensities will be astronomical in terms of the social programs and benefits denied American working people, not to mention the consequences of living in a state of permanent warfare.

The recent decision to escalate the Iraq war with a “surge” of 21,000 more troops, the plan to increase the armed forces by another 92,000 troops, and President George W Bush’s request for US$716 billion to meet the Pentagon’s warmaking needs in fiscal year 2008 are a harbinger of what’s coming next – new technologies for fighting future wars on the ground, improvements in the nuclear stockpile and delivery systems, and the militarization of outer space, among other military goals.

The Pentagon’s futuristic war plans and the 2008 war budget leave no doubt that the US has discarded president George Washington’s warning in 1796 to avoid “overgrown military establishments”, or president Dwight D Eisenhower’s advice in 1961 to “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence by the military-industrial complex”.

The 2008 war budget not only exceeds the combined military budgets of the rest of the world’s nations, but means the cost of Bush’s “war on terrorism” (including Iraq and Afghanistan) amounts to more in inflation-adjusted dollars than the cost of the Korean or Vietnam wars.

Washington’s ever-expanding forces of war, combined with more than 750 major military bases around the world to secure America’s economic and political empire, mean that the United States, despite the absence of helmeted brutes in hobnailed boots parading on cobblestone streets, is a militaristic society that is a danger to world peace.

“Today, as never before in their history,” writes Andrew J Bacevich in his stunning book The New American Militarism, [1] “Americans are enthralled with military power. The global supremacy that the US presently enjoys – and is bent on perpetuating – has become central to our national identity. Americans in our own time have fallen prey to militarism, manifesting itself in a romanticized view of soldiers, a tendency to see military power as the truest measure of national greatness, [and] have come to define the nation’s strength and well-being in terms of military preparedness [and] military action.”

Unless militarism is curtailed, Chalmers Johnson predicts in The Sorrows of Empire, four things will happen: “First, there will be a perpetual state of war, leading to more terrorism against Americans wherever they may be. Second, there will be a loss of democracy and constitutional rights. Third, an already well-shredded principle of truthfulness will increasingly be replaced by a system of propaganda, disinformation, and glorification of war, power and the military legions. Lastly, there will be [national] bankruptcy.”

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